When pondering what makes a company a great place to work, several things come to mind. Opportunities for growth, sure. A stable and motivating salary – definitely that, too.
But amidst the more professional aspects, employee well-being stands out as one of the vital issues companies are striving to address to ensure their team’s happiness and motivation.
What’s employee well-being?
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Europe’s largest professional institute for people management and development, defines employee well-being as:
“the process of creating an environment to promote a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organization.”
To translate fancy words into human terms, encouraging employee well-being essentially means taking care of:
- The physical aspect at the workplace (e.g. providing access to natural daylight and temperature control)
- The psychological aspect (e.g. supporting mental well-being through providing adequate breaks)
Now, with a small company of, say, 5 people, it’s easier for the management to talk to each teammate and make sure everyone’s left smiling and satisfied.
But as the company grows, it can be increasingly challenging to ensure your team of 30, 100, or even more people is taken care of.
I had the chance to talk to Raitis Purins, the head of marketing of Printful. The print-on-demand company that started as a small start-up from Latvia was recently named one of the fastest-growing companies in the US by Inc. Over the last 3 years, Printful has grown by 768% and now has a team of over 600 employees across the world.
As far as employee well-being in a fast-growing company goes, Raitis was happy to share his best tips and tricks on how to improve it:
1. Get to know the people (and make sure they know each other)
70% of employees have said that having friends at work is the most crucial element to happy work life. But what do you do when the company grows so fast you don’t have the chance to get to know everyone – let alone, build a relationship?
For that reason, Printful has introduced cross-departmental meetings with a “speed dating” event where people can get to know their co-workers and managers. Raitis explains:
“We use the speed-dating format to get to know the people within our closest team and other branches. It’s important to take the time to learn their story – where they’re coming from, what their hobbies are, what excites them. It’s much more pleasant – and productive – to work with people you actually know and can have a good laugh with instead of complete strangers.”
2. Show kindness and appreciation
Oftentimes, people confuse being a good boss or a leader with being, well, a pushy jerk. Experts say that being kind and showing gratitude and appreciation towards your employees is extremely important.
In the book “Leading with kindness”, the authors William F. Baker and Michael O’Malley use scholarly reports, interviews, and personal observations to prove that “good people consistently get superior results” in management by using kindness.
Raitis agrees and says that even a small act of kindness really goes a long way:
“Sometime during fall last year, my team got sick because of the lousy weather. I made a note to myself on my phone to remind me that the same time next year, I need to stock up on fruits and vitamins for the whole team to fight the viruses.”
With a smile on his face, Raitis adds that you can never be sure whether the vitamins will actually keep you healthy. But the kind gesture will definitely make the team feel valued and appreciated, which is equally important in the long run.
3. Offer wellness perks
They say a healthy body keeps a healthy mind. Raitis agrees and emphasizes that this should be encouraged through office wellness perks.
“For me personally, exercising 3-4 times a week after work helps to stay balanced and avoid burn-out. Recognizing the impact physical activities have on improving mental health, we also offer a free gym membership for all our employees.”
Among other perks, Raitis names providing free healthy lunch for every employee on Printful office premises, morning yoga get-togethers, always having healthy snacks around, and offering remote office opportunities.
What’s interesting is that once a year, a Buddhist monk comes to visit Printful to meditate and talk about the meaning of life with the employees, and is even available for Skype calls throughout the year.
In addition, it’s important to create a pleasant office environment where employees feel safe and well-supported – even things like having no plants around or poor technical support and laggy computer can distract your team.
“When the office looks and feels as if you’d actually want to spend time there, people feel more at home and productivity increases as well.”
4. Don’t ask for 100% perfection
In a fast-growing company, it’s easy to get lost in the never-ending list of to-dos and strive for greatness at the cost of one’s mental health. Raitis says in the long term, this never ends well:
“Both managers and employees need to keep in mind that nobody will ever be able to do everything. In a growing startup, every person has a list of tasks for the week, and most probably, there will not be enough hours a week to complete them all.”
That’s why it’s important to prioritize the team’s and personal tasks, figure out which ones are more important, and tackle those projects first.
“And you don’t have to do everything perfect. Avoid perfection, that’s what I say. Instead, you should benchmark your growth with previous results to see if there’s improvement.”
If you’re a manager who cares about their team and wants to see them satisfied, be open to feedback and hear out if anything could be improved. And remember – happy team makes a happy manager.